Workplace safety is like a field goal kicker: often overlooked on a football team’s roster but utterly crucial to its success. The all-star running back might not view the kicker as a valuable asset, but make no mistake — any given game can come down to the swing of a boot.
In a similar vein, improving worker attitudes towards safety is one of the most difficult challenges in the lives of managers. Individual personalities and social behaviors are moving targets, and difficult to pin down. According to MySafetySign’s recent survey of safety professionals, worker attitudes are the top frustration that safety managers face when trying to reach one of their most important goals: implementing a comprehensive plan that safeguards their workforce’s well-being.
If a safety manager faces so much friction with policy buy-in, how can leaders in other spheres hope to gain support in relatively innocuous office environments? From the world of manufacturing, construction, and other potentially high-stake industries, we’re able to borrow three lessons and insights that can help you achieve the attitude changes you desire most from your employees.
1. Prioritize employee wellness in your workplace
Much of success depends on the standards that are set by upper echelons of a business. If company leadership places a strong emphasis on providing a healthy, balanced workplace that prioritizes wellness, employees will feel comfortable approaching management with their issues and concerns. In turn, workers take more pride and accountability for their productivity. Gym-membership subsidies and health and nutrition resources are a couple of examples.
2. Celebrate achievements, recognize accomplishments
Show your employees that the organization genuinely cares about them. Whether it’s an e-mail blast to the whole department or taking time to compliment someone in person, relaying your gratitude for employee contributions goes a long way. Be active and find ways to initiate discussions to develop rapport. Company safety policies, for example, aren’t worth much unless they’re communicated effectively. Holding organization-wide meetings where leadership interacts with workers can help employees feel more involved overall and develop a sense of accountability for the company’s bottom line.
3. Be receptive when it comes to employee stress levels
One of MySafetySign’s most interesting survey findings is that stress and overwork are two highly neglected concerns in workplaces. When leaders are frustrated with negative attitudes and low buy-in from workers, it could be due in part to not giving enough consideration to emotional and mental factors. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, job stress is defined as “the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker.”
Countless employees face long shifts, unreasonable expectations, and excessive workload. Altogether, it can take a toll on your team members, regardless of their field. The onus is on management to accommodate employees’ psychosocial needs.
These are just a few techniques used in the safety industry that relate across fields. Do you know of other trades that have valuable managerial lessons? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Mike Miles is the social media manager at SmartSign in New York City, the parent company for MySafetySign. SmartSign’s mission is to make signs and labels as effective as possible to prevent accidents and save lives.